Ahh, roommates! Sometimes you love them, sometimes you argue about every little thing with them. Either way, coming in as a first-year student to Notre Dame, you will be assigned a random roommate (or roommates, depending on the residence hall you are in) and will live with them. This concept was super daunting to me as a first-year, since I would be living with someone I didn’t know, but it actually worked out really well and I’m happy I had that experience. Now that I’m a junior currently studying abroad, I have my own room, and since I’ve lived through both experiences for a while, I wanted to share some differences between living with roommates and by yourself.
I will admit, having your own space is really nice when living by yourself. I decorated my room exactly how I wanted and didn’t have to worry about someone else interfering with my design choices. Also, when it's been a while since I’ve done laundry, I don’t need to hide it away to try to make the room look nice–I let the clothes sit out in the open until I get fed up and decide to finally wash them. After a long day, it's easy to flop on your bed and play on your phone without having to share anything with anyone.
It's also nice to have some alone time in your own room. I don’t feel afraid to play my music out loud or talk to myself, which can be problematic when you share a space with someone else. While I never feel lonely in my room (because I know I can walk down the hall or call up some friends for camaraderie), I like being alone sometimes in order to find myself. I truly believe that you can’t pour into others what you yourself don't have, so I find it very therapeutic to recharge in my own space, then go out into the world and pour goodness into others.
While these are great aspects of living alone, having someone to share experiences with is a great aspect to have as a roommate. When you are both randomly bored in the room, you are more likely to come up with fun and wacky things to do. There is no need to text your friend asking if they are busy, and then make the trek all the way across campus to meet up with them. With a roommate, you know when those times happen, and sometimes it's helpful to have a distraction when you are stressed or are feeling down.
While your own space is important, you truly never feel lonely with another presence in the room. When there is a striking news article that comes out or if there is a cockroach climbing on the wall, you don’t have to go through those things alone. Even if my roommate and I don’t talk when we’re both in the room, it's nice to feel the companionship between the two of us. Ever want to rant? Someone’s always there. Need a quick decision to be made? Someone can help you right away. Want some advice? Someone right next to you can offer it.
Lastly, being thrown into a random roommate situation forces you to meet new people really fast, and I needed that coming into college. Even if you dislike your roommate, it lets you know the type of person you do want to live with, and in that way, you learn more about yourself. It also exposes you to someone completely different to you, and it helps you learn to compromise and resolve conflicts.
So if you are looking for a possible friendship coming into college, reach out to your roommate as soon as you can and get to know them! If you are not really looking to be best friends with your roommate, that's fine–but make sure to be nice and keep an open mind, they might be better than you think!
Even if you never talk to your roommate again or are best friends with them (shoutouts to Molly, Maya, and Emelie), living with someone else exposes you to new people and allows you to learn more about yourself. You have the rest of your life to live how you want, so take advantage of being on campus and get to know others!